Day 27 – 35: Angola – Rundu to Luanda

Distance from Katwitwi border to Luanda: 2 010 km

Distance travelled on this trip from home: 8 288 km

We spent two nights at Kaisosi Lodge near Rundu where we met the group on the second night. Kaisosi Lodge is on the Okavango river with nice amenities.

PCR tests and yellow fever vaccination cards were required for entry into Angola, so we went to a laborotory in Rundu for the PCR tests.

Katwitwi border is 190 km from Kaisosi and the border entry took more than two hours. The Namibian side was fast and easy. The Angolan border officials spoke Portuguese with almost no English.

We entered Angola after lunch and drove 100 km along the Cubango river (named Okavango in Namibia) that took us 5 hours. Horrific road. The road building project was started more than 15 years ago and abandoned shortly after. Two-spoor along the half built road with potholes all the way.

Road building project
Camping in a quarry along the road to Menongue
Meat for sale. The claws are kept to identify the species.

The next day we had another 120 km of this horrible road and then the tarred road started 130 km before Menongue. It took us 7 hours to reach Menongue – 250 km from the campsite of the previous night.

Crossing the Cabunda river
One of the many war remnants we saw…

Menongue to Waku Kungo

We stopped in Menongue to buy Angolan simcards and were approached by the Angolan National TV, who interviewed the group. It seems that we have been the first tour group to enter Angola post since February 2022 when the land borders re-opened (post-Covid)

Menongue town
Typical post-war building
Menongue statue
Camping in a clearing past Menongue
Landscape and road condition

Until here the villages were few, but towards Huambo the traffic and villages increased in numbers.

Charcoal and bricks for sale
Market

Huambo is a bustling, busy large city with lots of half-built and delapidated war buildings and a population of more than 800 000 people. And extremely clean. There are NO garbage in the streets. Only people and small motorbikes as well as Keweseki 3-wheelers, carrying anything from family members to goats to building materials to fresh produce.

Before Waku Kungo we spent the night camping on a poultry farm.

Waku Kungo to Fazenda Cabuta

We headed to the forests of central Angola and on the way we stopped at a clearing along the road. What we did not realise at the time, was that it is in an area where a company is searching for landmines. They approached us and immediately warned us not to wander away from the vehicles. And showed us the mines they have taken out since they started at this location.

The blue markers on the following photo shows live mines still buried.

Demining team at Rio Longa
Mines retrieved to date at Rio Longa

Then we turned onto a narrow broken tarred road towards the coffee plantation (Fazenda Cabuta). And we almost had the first disaster. The road was washed away into a donga underneath the tar and when Dewald’s Prado passed, the tar broke away. The vehicle was balanced on the chassis with the right front and rear wheels hanging in the air. If he passed half a meter to the right, the vehicle would have overturned into the hole.

Rescue followed. Jakkals secured him with a winch on the front and Sydney winched him out from the back. Happy ending.

The donga was approx 2 meters deep behind the rock
Rural town in the forest

Angola produced 8,000 tons of coffee in 2017 – a fraction of the more than 230,000 tons it produced annually in the early 1970s when it jockeyed with Côte d’Ivoire and Uganda for the title of Africa’s top exporter.

The country aims to reclaim its former glory as part of efforts to diversify an economy that has become highly dependent on oil exports.

Coffee grown in Angola’s lush, green highlands once provided half of its foreign exchange earnings – until the nation fell into a decades-long civil war after winning independence from Portugal in 1975.

Within a decade, production had collapsed and oil had stolen the show.

Fazenda Cabuta is one of the few coffee plantations producing coffee beans currently.

Camping on soccer field at Fazenda Cabuta
Coffee plantation – Fazenda Cabuta

Fazenda Cabuta to Pedras Negras

The road from the coffee farm to the main road was almost impassable. Narrow, wet, slippery and between tall growth.

At some places it deteriorated into a single track bike road, and then opens up a bit again.

We slipped and slided and some of us got stuck. And we averaged 6 km per hour for this section of more than 20 km.

Wetland
Slipping sideways on this road…

Kwanza River

Kwanza river – deep and narrow
Fish from Kwanza river

Pedras Negras

The Black Rocks at Pungo Andongo (Pedras Negras de Pungo Andongo) are found some 116 km from the provincial capital of Malanje in Angola. They are a series of mysterious rock formations, many incredibly and spectacularly shaped in the form of animals, standing high above the flat African Savanna. There is a fort erected by the Portuguese in 1671.

From the viewpoint
Angola staghorn ferns on the mountains at the viewpoint
Camping below Pedras Negras
Pedras Negras from afar

Calandula Falls

Calandula Falls are waterfalls in the municipality of Calandula, Malanje Province, Angola. On the Lucala River, the falls are 105 meters high and 400 meters wide. They are one of the largest waterfalls by volume in Africa.

We camped in the parking area of the hotel across the river directly facing the falls. Everything was wet from the spray. We could not move outside. The paving was slippery.

View from Pousada de Calandula – the following morning

From Kalandula to Luanda

Catholic church
Catholic church in N’Dalatando

N’Dalatando Botanical Gardens

We visited the botanical gardens at N’Dalatando with beautiful plants – huge clumps of bamboo, huge trees with staghorn ferns and also Heliconia type of flowers – the porcelain rose.

Angola Staghorn Ferns (Platycerium elephantotis) in the trees
Rosas de Porcelana – a waxy flower also known as the Torch Ginger – growth similar to Heliconia, also found in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Caribbean and Hawaii.

Towards Luanda

The tarred road was busy, narrow without a shoulder and full of potholes. Lots of trucks and 3-wheeler bikes. This stretch of road was really tiring. But the landscape is stunning.

Informal restaurants along the road

Barro do Dande – Shipwreck Beach

According to the tour leader guide book, ther are two versions of the reason for the wrecks on this beach:

The official government statement was that the ships were old and no longer in use – they ran them onto the beach

The unofficial most probable version is that the Portuguese ran the ships onto the beach to make them unusable when they had to leave the country in 1974. They had to leave the country in a hurry without being allowed to take any possessions.

Camping at Shipwreck Beach
View from camp
Ship wrecks
Fishing at Shipwreck Beach

Angola has the most incredible landscapes. The people are friendly and we never felt unsafe. We had a small audience at some spots where we parked, but they kept their distance.

In the small rural villages small children came running towards the vehicles and asked for something – we could not understand them, but it was most probably sweets. They seem well fed and happy, as they have plenty of fruit trees and fresh produce, as well as goats, cattle, pigs and cassava.

We noticed the vast number of children compared to adults in the country.

Population age: over 14 million people were aged 14 years and younger in 2021. This age group was the largest in the country. The population was 29.9 million people. The median age in South Africa is 27.6 years, while in Angola the median age is 16.7 years.

Albinism:

We noticed lots of albino people in the remote villages. Albinism is more common because rural tribes have a more isolated genetic pool, and because the society is less mobile.

Route from Kaisosi Lodge at Rundu to Barro do Dande, Luanda:

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